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How to Print on Cotton T-shirt

Are you looking for a printing shop near me to custom print t-shirts? Before you choose one, do you know that there are different techniques you can apply to imprint on t-shirts varying their fabrics? Whether you want to design a custom t-shirt for personal use or business purpose, you must know the difference between each printing technique so that you can choose the right method for the right fabric. 

Moreover, the volume of printing items is also an important factor to consider as certain printing techniques work best varying the product quantity. Additionally, the number of colors each design contains is also a massive factor. So, there are so many variables you must pay attention to choose the printing technique for different fabric types. 

As cotton t-shirts are widely accepted by all users, this article will explain different printing methods to print on cotton t-shirts. Let’s get started! 

Different Printing Techniques on a Cotton T-shirt

With the help of digital printing technology, various options and revolutionary methods have been introduced to print on t-shirts. Therefore, it’s not possible to pick any method and go for printing. 

If you can understand the difference between the printing methods, their strengths, and their limitations, then it would be easy for you to choose which one to go for. 

There are various types of printing techniques you can use for cotton t-shirts. However, here I am going to explain the method for screen printing and sublimation printing. 

Screen printing method for a cotton t-shirt:

Screen printing is one of the best methods to print on cotton t-shirts. It’s not only an easy but also a cost-effective technique for small-budget t-shirt business entrepreneurs. Here are the elements you need for screen printing on t-shirts. 

Things you will need 

  • Screen printing press 
  • Inks 
  • Mesh screen
  • Squeegee
  • Cotton t-shirt 

Step 1: Getting ready with a t-shirt and design

First of all, you need a cotton t-shirt and a design you want to print on it. Print the design on a transparent film as it will be required to create the stencil. 

Step 2: Preparing the screen 

Then, you need to select a mesh screen as per the design you have selected. Depending on the design complexity, the screen will be covered with emulsion in different layers. 

Step 3: applying the emulsion 

Next, apply the emulsion to the screen. And, take the transparent film where you have printed the design and lay it on the screen. Now, the screen needs to be brought under a bright light to create the stencil. 

Step 4: Creating a stencil 

As you have taken the stencil under light, you will notice some areas are more hardened than the rest. It would be best if you washed the unhardened areas to harden them entirely. Thus, you will imprint the design on the stencil. After the screen is completely hardened, check for areas for modifications. The more accurate the screen is the price and design quality you can ensure. 

Step 5: Screen printing 

Now, place the t-shirt on a printing board and lay the screen on a t-shirt printing press. Then, pour ink and press the screen downwards on the printing board. The ink will cover the edges of the screen and, using the squeeze, cover the design throughout the screen on the fabric. You will notice the design is imprinted on the t-shirt. 

To reuse the stencil on other t-shirts, discard the stencil and clean the screen with cold water. Let them dry, and air dry the newly printed t-shirt as well. 

Sublimation printing on a cotton t-shirt 

If you want to print colorful designs on t-shirts, then you can easily get the desired outcome through the sublimation printing technique. Though you can’t directly use dye sublimation on cotton fabric, there is a technique to do it. If you can iron on a bit of glitter with sublimation, then you can work with cotton t-shirts. You can also use sublimation fabric sheets to create a colorful design on cotton t-shirts comfortably. 

Here is the method of sublimation printing on a cotton t-shirt. 

Things you will need: 

  • Cotton t-shirt 
  • Heat resistant tape
  • Design 
  • Sublimation paper
  • Cutting machine 
  • Sublimation fabric
  • Sublimation printer
  • Heat press 
  • Cricut and Cricut cutting mat
  • parchment paper
  • Lint roller

Step 1: Design creation 

First of all, you need to choose a design. For this, you can create your own or download designs from free sources. Then, you need to resize the file. You can use cutting software like Cricut Design Space or Silhouette studio for this purpose. Create the design in offset so that you can cut it from the sublimation fabric. 

Step 2: Print a full-color design with sublimation paper 

After creating the design, you need to print it on sublimation paper. Before you command to print, make sure to select “mirror” the full-color design. Then, load the plain side of the paper into the printer and print. Next, trim down the design with a cutting machine or scissors. 

Step 3: Working with sublimation fabric

Unlike sublimation paper, while working with sublimation fabric, make sure you don’t “mirror” the offset design. Then, insert the fabric into the mat with a liner. The shiny part of the liner should be the downside. Carefully select the material type on the cutting machine before cutting. 

Step 4: Pressing the design on sublimation paper 

After the newly cut fabric, press the design on the sublimation fabric. Remember, the design should be faced down, and the fabric side of the sublimation fabric should be up. Secure the design on the fabric with heat-resistant tape. 

Then, set the heat press with the sublimation paper on top. Cover it with parchment paper. Next, use the heat press at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 50 seconds. As you are done, carefully remove the design from the press as the newly pressed design is hot. 

Next, remove the top layer of the sublimation paper, and you will see the final design on the sublimation paper.

Step 5: Imprinting the design on a t-shirt 

Again, set the heat press at 302 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, place the shirt on the heat press for a few seconds so that any moisture or wrinkles get removed. Afterward, use the lint roller to remove dust or lint from the fabric. 

As the fabric is ready, remove the back cover from the printed design and set it on the shirt where you want the design to be. Then, cover the design paper with parchment paper, and this time, the heat press needs to be held for 12 seconds only. As you remove the shirt from the press, you will find out the newly printed bright design on it. 

Final thought 

Printing on t-shirts is fun, isn’t it? You will be amazed to know it’s a huge business that Printing Services in London has become one of the major drivers of its economy. There are many printing companies here that are providing amazing online services. Now that you know the techniques of printing on cotton t-shirts, you can print for personal or professional business. 

No matter if you want to get a cool custom-made design for your own or you are in this t-shirt printing business, whenever you need professional help for design and printing, then you can choose Print Britannia for high-quality design and on-time printing service. 

Eleena Wills
Hi, I’m Eleena Wills. Being a writer and blogger, I strive to provide informative and valuable articles to people. With quality, constructive, and well-researched articles, one can make informed choices. I cover a wide range of topics, from home improvement to hair styling and automotive.


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